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Meet the FDS Board: Mr Simon J Littlewood FDSRCS

26 Jun 2018

Simon J Littlewood FDSRCS is a consultant Orthodontist and has been an Elected Board member of the Faculty of Dental Surgery since 2014. Here he shares his views on the secret to a happy career in dentistry and what the Faculty of Dental Surgery can do for you.

I love my job. We all hope to eventually carve out a career that makes us want to get out of bed in the morning and go to work, and I consider myself very fortunate to be able to love what I do for a living.

There are many things that contribute to making a happy career, but if I had to sum it up in one word, for me it would be this: variety.

Moving orthodontics forward

I am a consultant Orthodontist, who heads up a busy, large orthodontic department in a district general hospital in Bradford. I am lucky to work with excellent consultant colleagues and we all share an ambition to constantly improve the department and move things forwards. As soon as we stand still in healthcare we are effectively moving backwards. This constant need to change, adapt and improve can at times feel exhausting, particularly in more challenging times of austerity as we are in the moment, but I am certainly never bored.

We are a busy centre treating the full range of complex malocclusions, and working closely with colleagues in maxillofacial surgery, restorative dentistry, oral surgery, ENT and sleep physicians. As well as the clinical work, we are also a big teaching centre and get involved in some clinical research. I have always believed that being involved in teaching makes me a better clinician, ensuring I am always right up to date with new clinical techniques and research, and constantly being challenged by wonderfully talented and enthusiastic orthodontic trainees, or delegates at the conferences where I lecture. I also spend Fridays at the University of Leeds, teaching on the postgraduate programme and supervising on clinics at Leeds Dental Institute.

A career beyond clinical work

While I still regard clinical work as the most important part of my job, early on in my career I realised that I enjoyed the variety of being involved in lots of different areas, interacting with lots of different individuals, rather than being restricted to one clinical location. For many years I have been heavily involved in the British Orthodontic Society – a really proactive and successful specialist society – and back in 2013 I decided to broaden my horizons further and apply to be on the Board of the Faculty of Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons (FDS). I already had strong links to the Faculty, having set up the UK’s first Orthodontic Therapy Course in 2007 with fellow  Orthodontist, Trevor Hodge, which is run under the auspices of the FDS and has trained more orthodontic therapists than any other course in the UK.

The FDS and its supporting role 

Many of us are familiar with the Faculty through exams earlier in our career, but it was only when I was lucky enough to be organise the 70th Anniversary celebrations for the Faculty last year, that I really began to appreciate the key roles it plays in dentistry, and how much the Royal College of Surgeons has to offer. The Faculty influences and advises the government and national bodies on oral health. Members  have access to many e-journals, online resources like e-Den, publications such as the Faculty Dental Journal, useful career advice and reduced rates on the large variety of popular educational courses and CPD events to help all us to continue to develop our skills and knowledge.

A few years after qualifying in dentistry, many of us look for a way of developing our skills further and working with the profession in different ways. One way to do this is to do this is to become a Regional or Specialty Advisor for the Faculty, where you have the opportunity to share your experience and expertise to improve and develop the profession. 

My involvement in the FDS has added new dimensions to my career, and variety, at least for me, has been a key factor in making my job so enjoyable. I would encourage anyone looking to develop themselves more, no matter what your stage of career, to consider getting more involved the Faculty and add that crucial variety to your professional journey.

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